POWHR Newsletter

1. This week's news writeup
2. A blog from POWHR's Co-Chair Roberta Bondurant on the importance of the Build Back Better Act 
3.'What Can I Do Right Now?'
4. Upcoming Events 

News Writeup

Virginia News 

Today, Governor-elect Youngkin announced his nomination of Andrew Wheeler as the next Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources and Michael Rolband as the next Virginia Director of Environmental Quality. Wheeler served as former President Trump’s EPA chief where he weakened regulations on the release of mercury and toxic metals from oil and coal-fired plants. Wheeler has also lobbied for the coal industry. Michael Rolband founded Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc., a natural and historic resources consulting firm, and has testified for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

POWHR’s Co-Chair Roberta Bondurant said “Governor-elect Youngkin’s nomination of a clean air and water destroying, climate-action-obstructing coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, for Secretary of Natural Resources is exactly what no Virginian needs. His nomination of Michael Rolband for Director of Environmental Quality when Rolbland has testified for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is completely backward. We are on the ground fighting for our lives, land, and water amidst a climate crisis and rampant environmental injustice. This moment calls for nothing but bold and immediate climate action, the end to the abominable Mountain Valley Pipeline, and a decisive transition to a renewable economy that will benefit all Virginians.” See and share this quote in our new press release

Sarah Vogelsong at the Virginia Mercury details how “two top Virginia officials recommended that the General Assembly not forbid any new carbon-emitting power plants ‘at this time,’ saying that the state can meet its ambitious decarbonization goals without a moratorium”, and goes into energy considerations, risk and policy all Virginians will be impacted by in the coming year. 

In Other News

Check out the Central Virginian’s part one of ”On Monacan land: A three-part series”. Toby Cox writes “the Earth was and remains important to the Monacans. According to [George Branham] Whitewolf, the community lives ‘seven generations in the future,’ meaning they care for the condition of the environment that will be passed down to future generations.”

National News 

Build Back Better is back on the Senate floor this week - see more in our blog! E&E News lays out 4 possible scenarios for the Act, 1) “Go small”, by reducing the pricetag of the bill even further - cutting programs like coastal resilience and wildfire mitigation. 2) “No deal”. E&E states “Manchin already killed a key policy to address climate change, the Clean Electricity Performance Program”, and excluding the child tax credit might be a “dealbreaker” for a lot of Democrats. 3). “Climate breakout”, or splitting off the $555 billion chunk of BBB devoted to climate measures and “passing it individually”, which Manchin has said he might support. 4) “Spending bills”, or using annual spending bills to infuse agencies with more capacity and money. The Washington Post reports that “‘The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement on,’ Manchin told reporters.” 

The Department of the Interior, covered by The Hill’s Zack Budryk, “said there are currently more than 130,000 documented abandoned, or orphaned, wells. Comparatively, a 2019 report from the Interior documented a total of 56,600 orphaned wells across 30 states.” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland continues to hold plugging old wells as a top priority. The Washington Post’s new analysis shows: “More than 4 in 10 Americans live in a county that was struck by climate-related extreme weather last year, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations, and more than 80 percent experienced a heat wave. In the country that has generated more greenhouse gases than any other nation in history, global warming is expanding its reach and exacting an escalating toll.” E&E News has a nice guide on "What to watch at DOE, FERC, Interior in 2022" for your perusal.

Processing and Moving Forward

To bring us back to what is important and in front of us in all the uncertainty and bad news, check out this piece by adrienne maree brown in Truthout, Letting Go: Wisdom From Our Grief. brown guides us: “we have to let go of capitalism, and the accumulation drive and supremacy posturing that it produces in us. We have to let go of our destructive tendencies toward each other and the planet. We extract from each other, destroy each other — we do the same to this precious and only Earth we know.”

On the Blog 

This week on POWHR's blog features a timely piece by Roberta Bondurant, a longtime resident, community advocate, and parent of three young people in Bent Mountain, Virginia and Co-Chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR). Roberta calls on the Biden administration and Congress to live up to their promises and pass the Build Back Better Act, saying: 

"Without this Act, the Biden administration would have to rely on its regulatory powers to curb emissions...It is time that the Biden administration and Congress make good on their ambitious climate promises by passing the Build Back Better Act now, and stopping all new and unfinished fossil fuel projects beginning now." 

Read Roberta's Full BBB Blog

What Can I Do Right Now?

Two Things! 

1. From Virginia Organizing

All around the Commonwealth, Virginians have been hit hard by the effects of mining, air pollution, pipelines, flooding, and climate change.

Tell Gov. Youngkin to keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and expand funding to help communities heal from these injustices. It's time to repair the harm that has been done by pollution. We can't afford to wait. Please sign this petition today!

2. From Halt the Harm Network

I can’t emphasize enough how much having federal action on methane reduction will help those of us in frontline communities like the Front Range of Colorado, who witness ongoing flaring regardless of state regulations supposedly preventing this practice.

We are being poisoned in our homes, and we are well aware as parents and grandparents of the toll this will continue to take on future generations.

Please join me to advocate for stronger methane standards. The EPA has proposed a new Methane Rule, and comments will be accepted until January 31.

Upcoming Events

  • Wild Virginia Book Club: The Forest Unseen, join Wild Virginia as we celebrate the possibilities of the new year by discussing The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell. The author observes a single square meter of Tennessee forest over the course of a year and shares how much beauty and wonder can be observed around us if we only take the time to pay attention. Mon, January 10, 2022, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST. Register here
  • Save the date for the ReImagine Appalachia’s Virtual Strategy Summit for 2022 - January 11th and 12th from 11 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. on both days. Last year we convened through panels and workshops to help guide and create our coalition's 2021 priorities, vision and workplan, with 12 sessions and hundreds of attendees. This year, we hope to receive even more participation to ensure ReImagine Appalachia is creating a 2022 work plan that includes all Appalachian voices! Please join us! Day 1 Panel: Building Appalachia’s Bright Future: What’s next with new opportunities from federal funding? Day 2 Panel: Starting Local: What are lessons from local leaders that can build towards regional excellence? Register for the workshop here
  • Appalachian Voices Presents: Our 2022 Virginia Legislative Agenda - "Virginia has made significant progress in recent years to transition to a just, affordable, and equitable clean energy future. However, there’s more work to be done and much of the progress that has been made in recent years is under threat. In 2022, the Virginia General Assembly will consider a wide variety of bills impacting our priority issues of environmental justice, solar energy, fracked-gas pipelines, just transition and fairness for electricity ratepayers. The legislative session begins January 12. Join us to learn about the issues we are working on this session, and how you can get involved!" Tue. January 11, 2022, 6:00 PM ET. Register here
  • Wild Virginia Presents: How to Use Freedom of Information Laws - "Join Wild Virginia for a workshop on state and federal Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) and learn how you can exercise your rights." Mon, January 24, 2022, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST. Register here
  • POWHR Book Club Presents: Earth Emotions - join us on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET for this special event. Do you struggle to put your feelings around ecological destruction and climate change into words? Do you feel alone at times in your grief and uncertainty about the future? Does the destruction of a place you love feel like losing part of yourself? Do you want to discuss how we can reinvigorate our biophilia, or 'love of life', to end this crisis? If so, we welcome you to join us for this special event. We will join together over Zoom to discuss Earth Emotions, New Words for a New World by Glenn A. Albrecht. Please join us even if you have not read the book! Please let us know if you need assistance obtaining a copy of this book to read. Please register at this link.
Photo by Matthew Pickett
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